Native to the Mediterranean region, artichokes were brought to the United States in the 1800s and first grown in Louisiana by French immigrants and in California by the Spanish. Today artichokes are grown almost exclusively in California, which accounts for more than 99 percent of national production.
Cut off about 1 inch from the top of the artichoke with a sharp knife. Use a kitchen shears to cut straight across the top of each of the leaves to remove the sharp tips. Remove small, hanging bottom leaves so that it is even all around. With a cut lemon, rub all cut surfaces on the top.
Place them stem-end down in about 1 inch of simmering water to which a little bit of vinegar and salt has been added. Weigh down artichokes with a heavy plate, then cover the pot. Simmer for about 45 minutes or until the leaves pull off with just a gentle tug. Check the water level periodically.
Start by pulling off one of the outermost petals. Dip the base of the petal into your favorite sauce. Many people prefer melted butter or mayonnaise, but there is no limit to the types of dips or sauces that can be used.
Pull the petal through your slightly clenched teeth to remove the soft, tender flesh at the bottom of the petal. Discard remainder (you’ll want to have an empty bowl ready in which to drop them).
Continue until all petals have been removed. You will now have arrived at one of the great culinary rewards: the heart! Scoop the fuzzy choke guarding the heart out with a spoon.
After all the petals have been pulled, cut the remaining artichoke heart into bite-size pieces. Dip and enjoy!